The United Designs – Wang Kaifang’s speech at the United Nations

Wang Kaifang , Nov. 17th, 2018
UN Chinese Contemporary Art Design Summit, the United Nations, New York

I believe the “United Designs” could solve the world’s problems fundamentally and create a sustainable future.

Hello everyone! I am Wang Kaifang. The theme of my speech is the “United Designs”.

When I entered the United Nations today, stronger feelings arose about the importance of “unity”. The establishment of the United Nations inaugurated the unity of multiple countries in the world, which is a milestone in the history of human progress. “Unity” gathers strength; “Unity” reflects wisdom; “Unity” brings peace to the world; and the world develops out of “Unity”. Similarly, design also needs “Unity”. I believe the “United Designs” could solve problems fundamentally and create a sustainable future.

Nature itself is the best textbook on the “United Designs”. The world is out of designs. For each creature, its form, quantity, position, duty, survival mode, feelings and evolution are so appropriately and miraculously designed. It has its unique characteristics, while closely interlinking with all other lives. It reflects the “United Designs” of the science, aesthetics, sociology, economics, psychology and cosmology etc.. Every life is an encyclopedia. From the gene containing complicated info to the infinite and mysterious universe, the “United Designs” spread around in nature. They embody the wisdom of interconnection and love, ensuring the flourishing evolution of nature.

Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese ancient sage advocated “To learn from nature”, which has been followed by us. Design is supposed to solve problems and create bright prospects. Why our designs, instead, have been creating more problems and even disasters? In my view, the reason is that those designs are not “united” enough and are still with omissions and prejudices.

The “United designs” should be the design for public benefit, which unite the opposites and narrow the gap. Nature is a combination of harmonious coexistence, seeking common ground while reserving differences. There is no absolute hostility and great disparity. Design therefore has the responsibility and obligation to create harmony and serve all people.

The “United Designs” call for “prudent innovation”. Indulgence in innovations, though propelling the development, would result in the waste of resources and increasing quantity of garbage left to our descendants. Creation must be united with degradation, just like the unity between life and death. The latters are equally important and wise designs. Saying that, when our designs are not perfect enough and we are incapable of degrading all our creations, please DO innovate prudently, cherish resources and refine on our creations.

The “United Designs” should not solely focus on the “people-oriented” design philosophy, which would lead to human’s selfishness and limitations as well as the damages to other creatures and the ecological environment. Unity is not merely about utilizing and acquiring, it should be with reverence and reciprocation.

There are many other types of “unity” neglected by us. Those “United Designs” in nature all contain love. Therefore, I think “Unity” is the basic principle of design and the essence of “Unity” is “love”. All fields in current world ranging from politics, economy, military, science and technology, culture, religion and even the virtual substances and aliens etc. all deserve our exploration and unity with humble hearts. The “United Designs” are about the “grand design” of world view and values; they are also the redesign of love.

I’m a cross-disciplinary designer from China. Born in the 1960s, I witnessed and experienced tremendous changes of the society. During my 30 years of practices, I’ve created more than 300 works and travelled to nearly 100 countries. All these experiences united into a force within me, inspiring me and reshaping me to have deeper perceptions of design responsibilities. We’ve been continuing the design of the world, bringing not only beauty but disasters out of the absent “United Designs”. This pain has been shared by my counterparts globally.

My works exhibited here – The Gate of China (which is the Landscape Design bidding scheme for the upcoming Beijing new international airport) and the digital sculpture The Sound of Love (which is in the Palace Museum in Beijing) – are both out of my ongoing explorations and practices of the “United Designs”, encompassing multiple new technologies and the united supports of multiple parties.

Currently in China, the cultural and creative industry is flourishing, encompassing the creative culture and the innovative civilization. This growing new civilization is exactly about the “Unity”, about the “United Civilizations” aiming at achieving a community of shared future and cooperative development globally. We must work together to create a new era of comprehensive unity. All human beings and all fields need to unite, without any omission.

In view of the above, we should call for the unity of all designers globally. We should courageously cross the boundaries and collectively create a “Brave New World” benefiting all lives, under the name of the “United Designs”! This is the mission of design; this is the mission of human evolution.

Thank you!